A space-based mission aims to set up an early-monitoring system for solar flares and geomagnetic storms.
The European Space Agency (ESA) project, which will be led by Airbus UK, aims to put a spacecraft between the sun and the Earth to keep track of when the sun ejects material.
This causes ‘space weather’, which can be highly charged, super heated and hazardous to satellites, spaceships and human life in orbit by affecting navigation, shortwave communications and power grids.
The ESA suggests the damage caused by an extreme space weather event could cost as much as €15 billion (£13.3bn) but says much of this disruption could be avoided through knowing about it in advance.
The organisation is planning to finalise the spacecraft’s design and instruments in about 18 months.
Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “This project has the potential for UK space and engineering expertise to help ensure vital communications, navigation and power networks are protected and is a great example of what we can achieve through continued scientific collaboration with our European partners.”